Ohio elections chief announces new public integrity unit

Oct 4, 2022, 9:53 PM | Updated: Oct 6, 2022, 3:08 pm
FILE - Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose speaks to the Fairfield County Lincoln Republican Club ...

FILE - Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose speaks to the Fairfield County Lincoln Republican Club in Pickerington, Ohio, on March 24, 2022. LaRose on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, announced a new public integrity unit in response to what he called Americans' “crisis of confidence” in the electoral process even while acknowledging the state's own reputation for secure voting. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon, File)

(AP Photo/Paul Vernon, File)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s Republican elections chief on Wednesday announced a new public integrity unit in response to what he called Americans’ “crisis of confidence” in the electoral process even while acknowledging the state’s reputation for secure voting.

The unit, taking effect next week, will consolidate and highlight the Ohio secretary of state’s investigative work and eventually have one or more dedicated investigator, Secretary of State Frank LaRose said in a statement. Those investigators won’t start until after the General Election, however.

He referenced a growing national trend “that indicates a crisis of confidence in the electoral process.”

That crisis is largely a concern of Republican voters and stems from lies told by former President Donald Trump about election fraud in the campaign won by Joe Biden.

Numerous federal and local election officials in both parties, a long list of courts, top former campaign staffers and even Trump’s own attorney general have all said there is no evidence of the election fraud the former president alleges.

For his part, LaRose initially said the 2020 election was secure and accurate, but as last spring’s primary neared — which LaRose won, defeating a 2020 election skeptic — he began to echo some of Trump’s talking points.

LaRose claimed there were problems in other states and touted his office’s work to combat voter fraud. Trump endorsed LaRose, a longtime supporter.

LaRose said his new division will help his office more efficiently and thoroughly do work it already does, such as voting system certification and investigation of election law violations, including a team dedicated at looking into rare cases of voter fraud or suppression and campaign finance violations, said LaRose, who is seeking a second term in November.

“Our elections are being scrutinized like never before, and any lack of absolute confidence in the accuracy and honesty of those elections weakens the very foundation of our democracy,” LaRose said in a statement.

He also referred to Ohio’s “strong national reputation for secure, accurate, and accessible elections.”

LaRose’s announcement follows a decision in Florida in which lawmakers and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis created a police force dedicated to pursuing voter fraud and other election crimes.

Democrats called LaRose’s news a waste of taxpayer dollars aimed at bolstering his political aspirations. LaRose’s name is often mentioned as a possible 2024 U.S. Senate candidate.

In a referral of 11 individuals for possible election fraud in August, LaRose identified just a single case of possible illegal voting, said party spokesperson Matt Keyes, making the new office “a taxpayer-funded solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.”

In fact, in a series of referrals since 2019, LaRose identified at least 548 cases of potential election fraud violations it referred to prosecutors, his office said. LaRose has acknowledged that cases of election fraud are a tiny fraction of overall votes cast in Ohio.

Chelsea Clark, LaRose’s Democratic opponent, questioned the timing of the announcement. She also noted LaRose’s efforts to keep his other opponent, independent candidate Terpeshore Maras, off the ballot. Clark called out LaRose for a “history of politicizing these investigations to punish opponents.”

Maras is a conservative podcaster who embraces Trump’s lies about the 2020 election. Last month, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled her eligible to run for Ohio secretary of state this fall.

In August, LaRose’s office had upheld a judge’s decision that a number of Maras’ petition signatures were invalid, and invalidated her candidacy, a move overturned by the state Supreme Court.

Maras dismissed the move as pre-election posturing.

If elected, she wouldn’t need such a unit, because “everyone employed in our office already has some delegated part in ensuring each Ohioan has a single secure vote that is properly counted – nothing more and nothing less,” Maras said.


Associated Press writer Kantele Franko in Columbus contributed to this report.


This story was first published on October 5, 2022. It was updated on October 6, 2022 to make clear that since 2019, the Secretary of State’s office identified at least 548 cases of potential election fraud violations that it referred to prosecutors.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

GOP’s Joe Kent contests results of Washington state race

Republican Joe Kent's campaign said Friday it intends to request a machine ballot recount of the counties within southwest Washington state's 3rd Congressional District.
10 hours ago
Associated Press

Case against man arrested in 1994 death of woman dismissed

Criminal charges against a man suspected in the 1994 murder of a Vancouver, Washington, woman have been dismissed.
10 hours ago
Associated Press

Memphis hospital: Halt to trans procedures is temporary

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Memphis hospital says it has paused, not stopped, its gender-affirming services in response to possible legal action by civil rights advocates who argue the hospital’s move is illegal and discriminatory. Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee accused Memphis-based Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare of halting all gender-affirming surgeries […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Belarus opposition figure returned to prison after surgery

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Maria Kolesnikova, a prominent member of the Belarusian opposition serving an 11-year prison sentence for helping stage anti-government protests, was taken back to prison after undergoing an operation for a perforated ulcer, her father said Monday. Alexander Kolesnikov was able to visit his daughter for about 10 minutes and found her […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Trump Organization tax fraud trial in jury’s hands

NEW YORK (AP) — Jurors started deliberating Monday in the Trump Organization’s criminal tax fraud trial, weighing charges that former President Donald Trump’s company helped executives dodge personal income taxes on perks such as Manhattan apartments and luxury cars. The deliberations follow a monthlong trial that featured testimony from seven witnesses, including longtime Trump Organization […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Dozens killed as mudslide swallows their bus in Colombia

BOGOTÁ, Colombia (AP) — A mudslide unleashed by torrential rain buried a bus and two other vehicles in central Colombia, killing at least 27 people and leaving others trapped as rescuers tried to reach them in the wreckage on Monday. The mudslide late Sunday divided a highway in two in the town of Pueblo Rico […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Ohio elections chief announces new public integrity unit